Garmin Asus A10 detailed review
If you are not the usual road ranger and find it hard to cruise around the city, getting confused with the roads and buildings, you would definitely find a GPS very handy – if you do not already own one that is. If GPS is something common to you, then I dare to bet my slavery that you have definitely heard the name of one of the pioneers in this industry – Garmin.
Now the immense fact here is that GPS is becoming wider in terms of adaptability, but smaller in terms of packaging. Its simple – people need convenience at their fingertips. Oops, did I mention fingertips? What if you could have a Garmin GPS in your mobile phone? Doesn’t convince you enough? What if I told you, this Garmin device can even take 5.0 Megapixel memories of the location you are touring, geo-tag those images, and allow you to even share those memories with your social network? Need more? What if it also throws in a massive list of applications and games for you to choose from – on the go, carries your music, videos and documents along, features an internet browser, synchronize your work and personal e-mails and still endure it all within a 110 x 58 x 13.9 mm body and weight only 130g with the battery? Did I mention that it also bears only a small price tag for its big adventures?
The Garmin-Asus A10 is exactly the device that does all of those. Combining the worlds best GPS application with one of the worlds most rapidly growing mobile platform – Android, the Garmin-Asus A10 is definitely a dream device to be possessed. Yes, it’s the same Asus company that have been creating a multi-farious-fund list of tech devices for our daily uses ranging from computer systems to multimedia and network hardware. Along with Garmin, Asus has taken the plunge into the world of smartphones and the Garmin-Asus A10 is their first ever Android adventure together.
This review is based on my personal hands-on experience and it shall serve as an unbiased judgment for those who are keen to own the device. Take note that I am an Android user and have been blazing on this operating system for more than a year now.
Garmin GPS does not need any introduction. This phone is preloaded with the latest version of Garmin’s professional 1460 car navigation software. The Lane Guidance and junction view is impressively intuitive. From the initiation of the GPS, it took only 33 seconds to connect to the satellites, all set for navigation! As the Garmin application was loaded, I was presented with the very usual Garmin interface showing speed limit, estimated arrival time, and other informational details useful along the journey. I started my testing from Pelita Curry House in SS2 Petaling Jaya, and keyed in my destination – Kampar – which was more than 150km distance. Surprisingly, the Garmin took only 7 seconds to calculate the whole route. As I drove, the voice navigation seamlessly guided me through my route excellently. In this testing, no SIM was inserted and I was not connected to the internet. The whole navigation was fully guided by the Garmin application interacting with GPS satellites only. The phone comes with a specially designed car dock. This car dock has a feature that captured my immediate attention – It remembers your car location and saves it in the phone! This can be very handy when you park your car in an unfamiliar location. The Garmin application also includes a built-in turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation and it vibrates to alert you at every turn. The directions are clear, the interface is neat and the accuracy is precise. I have to say, although I was very happy with Google Navigation on my rooted Nexus One (which apparently is ALSO included in the A10), the Garmin experience is just indefinable. Salutes to Garmin and Asus to bring this to Android.
The Garmin-Asus A10 comes with Android 2.1 (Éclair) and based on my sources, I was told that the phone will get a Froyo update in the future. However, this is still unconfirmed for now. When I switched on the phone for the first time, I was presented with a rather unusual home screen. After some fiddling, I found out that it actually features two unique interfaces for personalization. The classic home screen integrates navigation and cell phone features, providing quick access to the A10’s key features. The Breeze home interface is the Android’s usual widget-supported interface. You can personalize eight different desktops to customize your A10. As usual, if the default widgets are not enough for you, you can always visit the built-in Android market to get more widgets for your homescreen. The possibilities? Endless!
Bearing a 600MHz Qualcomm 7227 CPU, the performance was very impressive. It is the same processor you would find in the HTC Legend. After customizing the phone with widgets and installing about 35 applications and games, the phone was still steadily unlaggy. It has a 4GB built-in eMMC Flash memory, 512MB SDRAM and 512MB ROM. It also has Micro-SD expansion slot, supports sSDHC up to 32GB. The browser was slightly clunky at loading heavily-graphic website, but overall the speed was fabulous.
Sadly, the A10 does not pack the AMOLED display. It comes with a 3.2” HVGA TFT with 65K colors compatibility compared to HTC Legend’s 3.2” AMOLED with 16MB colors. However, this is still essentially good for the A10 since the TFT will consume lesser battery, saving more juice for your navigation experience. It does include capacitive touch screen with multi-touch support.
So far, Android devices have been including at least 5MPx camera for their mid-range smartphones. The A10 also comes with a 5MPX camera with auto-focus. It also records videos in MPEG-4/H.263 format at 30fps in QVGA. It plays MPEG-4/H.264/H.263/WMV at 30fps in VGA.
Networks supported on the phone include GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS, EDGE and UMTS 900/2100. HSDPA supports downloading speeds up to 7.2Mbps and uploading speeds up to 384Kbps. It has WLAN 802.11b/g support too. The Bluetooth is v2.0 and includes EDR as well. I tested the Bluetooth connectivity across three platforms – MacOSX (my macbook), Android (Nexus One) and Blackberry Bold. File transfers are functioning at its optimal speed. The best part in connectivity is, the phone includes internet sharing out-of-the-box. I managed to go online on my macbook tethered to the A10 successfully (and very easily too). Once you plug in the USB cable, you are presented with three options;
1. Garmin-Asus PC Sync.
2. File Transfer
3. Internet Sharing
The third option gets you online right away without much hassle at all. Works without any special settings.
If you are looking to explore Android, this phone is really an excellent start to begin with. In fact, if you already own a low-end Android, this mid-range Android powered phone is definitely worth an upgrade. I got really impressed with the Garmin’s navigation. For the price that its tagged, this baby is a steal! The monoblock body is very sexy. The chromium coating around the sides of the phone really gives the phone a sex appeal. The front panel is a glossy plastic finish which is flat without any hardware buttons giving it its own personality. The rear cover is somewhat similar to the material used on the back cover of the Nexus One. I am guessing it is a hardened Teflon material and it feels very comfortable in the palms. Nothing bulky, not too small.
Nothing is perfect
I know. This is the part that you guys have been waiting for. There is no perfect phone and it’s a fact. As much as I loved the A10, I wasn’t enough impressed with the TFT technology. Under extreme light conditions, the display goes invisible. Apart from that, there are only three soft key buttons. This may not seem like a disadvantage to most Android users, but I am getting too used to the Nexus One’s trackball, that I’m finding it tougher to live without. There is no hardware scroller in the A10. You have to rely on the touch screen permanently. Also, the bootloader does not use fastboot technology. You guys know how cool fastboot just is.
By the way, Garmin Asus A10 is rooted :)
If you have ANY questions or queries, feel free to ask me here and I will answer them accordingly.
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